News for February, 2013
Friday, February 22nd, 2013
When we talk about public transit, the discussion usually focuses on cost savings to users or the impact on carbon emissions. According to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, taking public transit is not just good for our wallets and our planet, but for our bodies as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults do at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week. While the word “aerobic activity” generally conjures up images of treadmills and elliptical machines, moderate intensity aerobics are activities that are often already engrained in our daily lives. This includes things like tennis, gardening, bicycling (at speeds under 10 mph), and brisk walking. Without realizing it, regular public transit users may be getting their entire recommended amount of moderate intensity exercise while walking to and from their trains.
The study found that those who live in large cities with rail systems are 72 percent more likely to spend at least 30 minutes a day walking to and from public transit. When done every day, they will get the two and a half hours of weekly exercise that the CDC recommends. From 2001 to 2009, the number of people transit walking at least 30 minutes a day rose from 2.6 million to 3.4 million. With continued investment in rail systems, the number of people reaping the health benefits of transit walking will continue to grow.
These insights provide an important reminder of the connection between public transit and public health. Built urban environments can either facilitate or hinder physical activity, and the ability to safely walk to public transportation is an integral part of this. Not only must policymakers and city planners make effective public transit a priority, but they must also be sure to equip neighborhoods near rail stations with the infrastructure necessary to make them safe for pedestrians. As we plan to expand walkable public transit access in Chicago, it is likely that improved cardiovascular health and lower body weight will follow close behind.
Copies of the study can be downloaded here.>>
Friday, February 22nd, 2013
Does your home or business suffer from a wet basement or flooded backyard? You’re not alone! Whether or live in Cook County IL, or somewhere else in the nation, we want to hear your story. We’re aiming to get 200 stories, along with data on the cost and stress it caused you, to help make the case for action at state and national level. Your information on costs of stormwater damage in your basement and backyard will also be used to help us design the nation’s first wet weather ‘Wetrofit’ service.
Read more »
Friday, February 15th, 2013
Photo credit: Patrick Putze
For nearly a century the Bloomingdale freight line has rolled across and above the City’s Northwest side. Today the tracks are aligned to transform the Bloomingdale into an elevated, mixed-use, linear park and trail running through the heart of Chicago, connecting neighborhoods, the river, and Chicago’s great park system. Since 2003, Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail have been advocating for this conversion of the rail line into Chicago’s next great park. Many community groups and public agencies have participated in a community charrette that led to the development a framework plan for this major endeavor.
CNT is pleased to be hosting, Reframing Ruin: A Prelude to the Bloomingdale Trail, a photography exhibition presented by Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail and The Trust for Public Land. The exhibit showcases the community’s documentation of the future trail, its relationship to the diverse neighborhoods it cuts through, and how we currently interact with this stretch of land through photography. Read more »
Monday, February 11th, 2013
CNT’s pioneering program, ‘Smart Water for Smart Regions’ and its practical focus on designing strategies to help communities alleviate costly water leakages and property damage from flooding, is attracting national attention. Our program staff have been appointed to national and state committees, and invited to speak at national events about this initiative. Read more »
Monday, February 11th, 2013
If there was ever a reason for more transit it is embodied in the recently published report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institution (TTI). Its 2012 Urban Mobility Report details the enormous costs associated with the ever increasing traffic congestion blighting America’s major metro areas. It calculates, for example, that in 2011 commuters spent 5.5 billion hours sitting in traffic (equivalent to the total amount of time that businesses and individuals spend filing their annual tax returns), wasted 2.9 billion gallons of fuel and pumped out 56 billion extra pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Photo Credit: Steven Vance/Flickr Creative Commons License
The Chicagoland area ranks 7th overall when it comes to hours wasted due to traffic congestion, 8th in terms of wasted fuel and 5th in terms of total dollar cost. The average Chicago commuter spends 51 hours a year in traffic, consuming 24 extra gallons of fuel. Traffic congestion cost each Chicagoan commuter an average of $1,153 in 2011. This is not efficient use of resources. Chicagoland commuters are also contributing to global warming by pumping out more than 2.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide while sitting in traffic.
I agree with some of the potential solutions cited in the report. The authors point out that in the absence of public transit services in the 498 major metro areas studied, the situation would have been a lot worse. Commuters would have suffered through an additional 865 million hours of wasted time and consumed 450 million extra gallons of fuel. This wasted time and fuel would have cost, according to the report, an additional $20.8 billion, a 15% increase over current congestion costs.
Photo Credit: Zesmerelda/Flickr Creative Commons License
While the report mentions increased highway capacity and more efficient use of highway infrastructure as part of a potential remedy, it emphasizes the importance of greater investment in expanding and improving public transit services in cities and their surrounding areas. Transit services don’t just take cars off the road improving traffic flow. They offer a safe, affordable and environmentally friendly alternative. The huge costs, financial and environmental, caused by traffic congestion highlighted in this report lend even more weight to the argument for greater commitment to transit infrastructure laid out in CMAP’s GOTO 2040.
Read the full report here.>>
Friday, February 8th, 2013
The Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) today released results of a year-long study into the potential for transit-oriented development to unlock economic, environmental and fiscal benefits for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The report, “Transit-Oriented Development Typology Strategy for Allegheny County,” was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group under the auspices of its GoBurgh initiative and funded by the Heinz Endowments. Read more »
Friday, February 8th, 2013
(Feb. 8, 2013) The Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) today released results of a year-long study into the potential for transit-oriented development to unlock economic, environmental and fiscal benefits for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.
“In an environment where we’re asked to do more with less, and make the most of our existing transit assets, the Pittsburgh region is poised to be a model,” said Abigail Thorne-Lyman, Director of CTOD. “This strategy has been developed with deep involvement from the nonprofit, public, and business sectors, meaning everyone is ready to act.”
The CTOD report, “Transit-Oriented Development Typology Strategy for Allegheny County,” was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group under the auspices of its GoBurgh initiative and funded by the Heinz Endowments.
The study revealed some interesting findings about what is needed to support TOD in Pittsburgh, including new sources of funding for smaller scale infrastructure improvements such as pedestrian pathways and signage to help link the stations to nearby communities. It also identifies priority areas for TOD investments out of 100 stations in the rail, busway, and incline transit network, based on the readiness of those stations to be transformed into walkable, transit supportive communities. The study prioritizes stations based on three types of investments: infrastructure, new development, and building the capacity of community groups, which is a specialty of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group and its GoBurgh initiative.
“The great news is, in the world of transportation, these are relatively low-cost investments that can catalyze significant gains for these communities,” said Chris Sandvig, Regional Policy Director for the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group and leader of its GoBurgh initiative. “We need to capitalize on that existing infrastructure in a comprehensive and systematic way so we can realize the economic, access, environmental and fiscal benefits of transit-oriented development.”
Copies of the report can be downloaded here.
For more information, Rebecca M. (Becky) Sullivan, Communications Director, Reconnecting America firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-429-6990, ext. 206,
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About the Center For Transit-Oriented Development
The Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) is the only national nonprofit effort dedicated to providing best practices, research and tools to support equitable market-based transit-oriented development. CTOD partners with both the public and private market sectors to strategize about ways to encourage the development of high performing communities around transit stations and to build transit systems that maximize development potential. CTOD works to integrate local and regional planning, generate new tools for economic development, real estate and investment issues, improve affordability and livability for all members of the community, and respond to imperatives for climate change and sustainability. The Center for TOD is a partnership of Reconnecting America, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and Strategic Economics. For more information visit CTOD’s website here.>>
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
“Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video/Flickr Creative Commons”
The insurance company, State Farm, has renewed its support for CNT’s “Smart Water for Smart Regions” initiative.
State Farm was a core supporter of the initiative in 2012, along with the Joyce Foundation and Surdna Foundation. Funding is being used to help communities develop strategies to alleviate costly water leakages, as well as property damage from flooding. Organizational supporters include the American Water Works Association, Water Environment Federation, Alliance for Water Efficiency, and the Great Lakes Commission.
Read more »
Friday, February 1st, 2013
CNT’s affiliate, CNT Energy, hit a milestone this month:more than 10,000 apartment units in the Chicago metropolitan area have been retrofitted with energy efficiency improvements through its Energy Savers program. Energy Savers, a one-stop shop that helps multifamily building owners make energy efficiency improvements to their properties, saves building owners 30 percent on utility costs on average ($10,000 per year for a 24-unit building), allowing landlords to keep rents reasonable because of those savings. Additionally, the program has cut more than 13,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, created nearly 400 jobs, and provided nearly $10 million in loans and grants to complete the building improvements.
Lou Sopcic owns a 96-unit building located in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. “Going through the Energy Savers program made owning this building viable,” said Sopcic. “Energy efficiency for this building is the difference between being able to balance expenses and losing our property.” The savings helped Sopcic preserve nearly 100 units of affordable housing. Read more »